Contents of this issue:


  • Teachers want to help save jobs
  • Race to the Top now top priority
  • Schools eye advertising revenue
  • Student loss not always job-related
  • Program combines engineering, service

TEACHERS WANT TO HELP SAVE JOBS   


WYOMING, Mich. - Some members of the Wyoming Education Association are calling on their fellow union members to agree to a plan under which Wyoming Public Schools could save jobs through employee payroll donations, The Grand Rapids Press reported.

Union leaders, however, have said that the district should spend some of its $5.1 million in fund equity to avoid layoffs instead, while the union membership as a whole has voted not to consider any contract concessions, according to The Press.

The district board of education voted recently to eliminate 57 positions as a way to reduce spending by $2.4 million.

"I urge my colleagues to have an open-minded discussion to do our part in this budget crisis," classroom teacher Theresa Almonte said during a school board meeting, The Press reported.

A petition signed by about 50 staff members suggests a plan in which a pre-tax donation would be taken from each employee's paycheck for the rest of the year and used to preserve jobs, The Press reported.

Almonte's job is not at risk, according to The Press. She also said, "I really think that it has to do with (Kent County Education Association) and (Michigan Education Association) representation. It's a bigger issue than just the union leadership here."

Gezelle Oliver, an MEA employee assigned to the Wyoming unions, said at the meeting that, "This is a State of Michigan problem.

We need fundamental changes in the way we fund education."

"A lot of people want to stay status quo and, unfortunately, we don't have General Motors up the road" anymore, said Jen Field, a pink-slipped fifth-year special education teacher at Wyoming Park High School who signed the petition, The Press reported.

SOURCE:
The Grand Rapids Press, "Wyoming school board votes to cut 57 jobs, but some staff want to offer concessions to keep positions," Nov. 23, 2009

FURTHER READING:
Mackinac Center for Public Policy, "Let the Union Buyer Beware," Jan. 7, 2008


RACE TO THE TOP NOW TOP PRIORITY   


LANSING, Mich. - State lawmakers will concentrate heavily on education reform in the next two weeks as Michigan attempts to nab up to $400 million in Race to the Top federal funding for schools, according to the Michigan Information & Research Service Inc.

The state's application for the competitive grant program is due Jan. 19, but a successful bid likely rests on whether Michigan enacts reform that allows alternative teacher certification, lifts charter school restrictions, creates a program to address failing schools and creates a means to link teachers to their students' standardized test scores, according to MIRS.

Legislation dealing with all of those issues is expected to go before the House and Senate education committees and then to the full Legislature in the next several weeks, MIRS reported.

House Education Chair Tim Melton, D-Auburn Hills, told MIRS that he's confident Michigan will receive Race to the Top funding if the legislation passes.

SOURCE:
Michigan Information & Research Service, Inc., "All Race to the Top, All the Time," Nov. 30, 2009 (Subscription required)

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "State Ignores $600 Million for Schools," Nov. 13, 2009


SCHOOLS EYE ADVERTISING REVENUE 


TRENTON, Mich. - Trenton Public Schools is negotiating with Alternative Revenue Development of Bloomfield Hills to raise money through advertising, according to The (Southgate) News-Herald.

Part of the plan involves selling advertising space at Trenton schools to local and national businesses that have an interest in education or want to support schools, according to Sam Curcuru, president and CEO of Alternative Revenue, The News- Herald reported.

But the program also could involve allowing businesses to advertise on school Web sites, as well as in-school programs in which his company would help parent-teacher organizations or booster clubs with fundraising, Curcuru told the school board, according to The News-Herald.

Southgate and Wyandotte public schools also have signed contracts with Alternative Revenue, which was established in May by former media and advertising executives, The News-Herald reported.

As the company's initial customers, each district will receive the first $25,000 in revenue while the company receives the next $25,000, the report said. Proceeds after that are split evenly.

SOURCE:
The (Southgate) News-Herald, "TRENTON: Schools partner with advertising company to raise revenue," Dec. 1, 2009

FURTHER READING:

Michigan Education Digest, "Goodrich schools look at bus advertising," Sept. 9, 2008


STUDENT LOSS NOT ALWAYS JOB-RELATED    


MONROE, Mich. - It turns out that Monroe Public Schools students are not leaving the district because job-hungry parents are fleeing Michigan, according to the Monroe Evening News. Instead, a study shows that at least half of the students who exited in 2008-2009 still live in the county or the state.

"There was always the assumption that there was a mass exodus of kids. I think it's a little surprising they're still around," said Ken Laub, assistant superintendent of business, the Evening News reported.

Of 852 students who left the district in 2008-2009, 228 went to other conventional public districts in the county and 117 students are now enrolled in parochial, charter or home schools, the Evening News reported. An additional 164 students left Michigan.

Each student represents about $7,300 in per-pupil funding from the state, though that number will go down this year due to state budget cuts, according to the Evening News.

School board President Bob Yeo said that closing four school buildings last year might be a factor in the enrollment loss, but that he still thinks restructuring was the right decision, according to the Evening News.

Board Vice President David Vensel pointed out that the numbers include 90 students who dropped out or were expelled, and said he believes more could be done to retain those students.

SOURCE: 
Monroe Evening News, "Student exodus or just a shift?" Nov. 28, 2009

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Digest, "More Flint students in charters," Nov. 15, 2009


PROGRAM COMBINES ENGINEERING, SERVICE


HURON COUNTY, Mich. - High school students in Huron County are learning engineering and computer science skills as they plan projects intended to help their local communities, according to a report in the Huron Daily Tribune.

The students and their teachers are part of a Purdue University- based program called Engineering Projects in Community Service.

Working with a community partner, team members from each school design a public improvement project, the Daily Tribune reported.

In Caseville Public Schools, for example, students are designing a way to use discarded rinse water from the Department of Public Works to irrigate ball fields or school gardens, according to the Tribune.

Harbor Beach Community Schools students are developing computer programs that would link food banks in the area for better communication and inventory control.

The projects can take several years to complete, from planning to design to implementation, the Tribune reported. Huron County's local partner is Square One Education Network, which provided a matching grant to cover the cost of county school participation, according to The Tribune.

SOURCE:
Huron Daily Tribune, "EPICS joining student creativity with community service," Nov. 23, 2009

FURTHER READING:
Michigan Education Report, "It's hard, but it's fun," July 15, 2008


MICHIGAN EDUATION DIGEST is a service of Michigan Education Report (http://www.educationreport.org), an online newspaper published by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy (http://www.mackinac.org), a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan research and educational institute.

Contact Managing Editor Lorie Shane at
mailto:med@educationreport.org

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